Too many people dismiss Freud because he had a few controversial ideas, but I try to point out that many of Freud’s ideas were very influential and can, with a little attention, be seen in everyday life.
No time to listen to the whole Episode? Click the image below to download a PDF with all the examples of Freudian Defense Mechanisms.
Here are my show notes for this episode:
NOTE: I want to thank listener Allen Esterson for helping to improve the accuracy of the information in this podcast. While I retain here a typical definition and example for repression (holocaust victims), Dr. Esterson points out that Freud’s concept of repression is highly controversial and that there is good argument and evidence to suggest that we do not repress memories and that victims of the holocaust have not repressed their memories of their experiences. For more in-depth information on this topic, he recommends reading Erdelyi, M.H. (2006). The Unified Theory of Repression, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29, 499-551, and the work of Richard McNally.
- Repression. Blocking a threatening idea, memory, or emotion from consciousness.
- Reaction formation. Transforming anxiety-producing thoughts into their opposites in consciousness.
- Regression. Returning to more primitive levels of behavior in defense against anxiety or frustration.
- Rationalization. Justifying one’s behavior or failures by plausible or socially acceptable reasons in place of the real reason.
- Denial. Refusing to admit that something unpleasant is happening, or that a taboo emotion in being experienced. Note: Denial distorts the way you perceive events (“I am NOT angry at you”) repression blocks or distorts your memory of events (the so-called “repressed memories” in which a person was molested but up to this point had no memory of it).
- Displacement. Discharging pent-up feelings, usually of hostility, on objects less dangerous than those that initially aroused the emotion.